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«CREST Charter Club: Responsible Travel in Cuba May 1-8, 2016 1333 H St., NW ■ Suite 300 East Tower ■ Washington, DC 20005 ■ P: 202-347-9203 ■ ...»

Center for Responsible Travel

Transforming the Way the World Travels


CREST Charter Club:

Responsible Travel in Cuba

May 1-8, 2016

1333 H St., NW ■ Suite 300 East Tower ■ Washington, DC 20005 ■ P: 202-347-9203 ■ F: 202-775-0819

www.responsibletravel.org ■ www.travelersphilanthropy.org ■ staff@responsibletravel.org


The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is hosting a unique responsible-travel oriented trip to Cuba. Once considered the forbidden fruit of the West, our neighbor to the south is now closer than ever. Its fascinating history, stunning terrestrial and marine environment, breathtaking architecture, warm people and rich music and art, make it the perfect place to learn about the Cuba of today, and have the time of your life while doing so. Travel to Cuba remains tightly regulated, but Cuba Educational Travel, our partner tour operator, holds a license from the U.S. Treasury Department (CT-2013-300203to arrange educational trips, meaning your memorable visit is fully sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Cuba is undergoing a series of interesting and important changes. Fidel Castro has disappeared from the policy-making scene and his brother Raul has instituted a number of economic reforms. As the “historicos” attempt to pass the torch to the younger generation of leaders, many factors such as relations with the U.S., the success of market-oriented reforms, emigration and the aspirations of young Cubans will determine the country’s future.


There is no better time to visit. Cubans, who strongly value family and friendships, are ready to welcome you.

A tropical paradise with a storied past, Cuba offers us a unique view of a world from a place few Americans have been able to see.

This trip is particularly geared towards small groups of family and friends. You will spend an intellectually stimulating, but fun and interesting, week of speaking with Cubans from many walks of life, exploring the natural environment and cultural heritage, and learning about the country’s unique political and economic system. Some activities will be done in a larger group, but many will be done with your immediate group of family and friends, including many meals, and there will be plenty of time to go off on your own.


Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 728 km2, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region. It was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and due to its strategic location it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the continent becoming a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish Galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World. King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592, and walls and forts were built to protect the fortunes that were held there soon after. The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish- American War.

Contemporary Havana can essentially be described as three cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado, and the newer suburban districts. Old Havana, with its narrow streets and overhanging balconies, is the traditional center of Havana’s commerce, industry, and entertainment, as well as being a residential area. It’s a main tourist attraction. To the north and west a newer section, centered on the uptown area known as Vedado, has become the rival of Old Havana for commercial activity and nightlife. It is also home to the University and many residential neighborhoods. A third Havana is that of the more affluent residential and industrial districts that spread out mostly to the west, most notably the Miramar zone.

Located west of Vedado along the coast, it remains Havana’s exclusive area; mansions, foreign embassies, diplomatic residences, upscale shops, and facilities for wealthy foreigners are common in the area.


In the 1980s many parts of Old Havana, including the Plaza de Armas, became part of a projected 35-year multimillion-dollar restoration project, for Cubans to appreciate their past and boost tourism. In the past ten years, with the assistance of foreign aid and under the support of local city historian Eusebio Leal, large parts of Habana Vieja have been renovated. The city is moving forward with their renovations, with most of the major plazas (Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco and Plaza de Armas) and major tourist streets (Obispo and Mercaderes) near completion. Due to Havana’s almost five hundred year existence, the city boasts some of the most diverse styles of architecture in the world, from castles built in the late 16th century to modernist present-day high- rises, encompassing Neoclassical, Colonial and Baroque, Art Deco and Eclectic and Modernism.

Residents of Havana have by far the highest incomes in the country, and a higher percentage of relatives living abroad.

There is considerable inward migration in search of economic opportunities, especially from the poorer eastern provinces.

Santiago de Cuba rivals it in some art, music and dance, but Havana is hands down the cultural and economic center of the country.


Viñales is a small town and municipality in the north-central Pinar del Río Province of Cuba. The municipality is dominated by low mountain ranges of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico such as Sierra de los Órganos, and the town consists mostly of one-story wooden houses with porches. Beautiful limestone formations known as Mogotes line the scenic valley, providing a stunning landscape. Before European settlement, the area was the home of a remnant Taíno population swelled with runaway slaves. The area was colonized at the beginning of the 1800s by tobacco growers from the Canary Islands, who settled in the Vuelta Abajo region, and the first settlement in Viñales is documented in 1871, in the form of a ranch belonging to Don Andrés Hernández Ramos. The actual town was established in 1878 as a typical community, with church, school, hospital and recreational park.

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The tourism projects at Las Terrazas aim to integrate ecotourism into the life of the community. Visitors can enjoy this tranquil and cozy setting, surrounded by the natural beauty of nearly 800 plant species and more than 70 species of birds, many of which are endemic.

Photo Courtesy of Juliet Barclay


The Guanahacabibes Peninsula and Cabo Corrientes Nature Reserve are located at 4 1/2 hours drive from Havana, at the tip of Pinar del Rio province. Hotel Villa Maria la Gorda is a small friendly resort is situated on a sweeping, palm-fringed beach and its warm, crystalclear waters host some of Cuba's finest dive and snorkeling sites. María la Gorda diving zone in the Ensenada de Corrientes is one of the most protected areas in Cuba, within the limits of one of the bestpreserved Reserve of the Biosphere in the world.

Experts consider that the seabed at María la Gorda is among the top ten places in Latin America, due to its abundant marine life and extraordinarily beautiful corals. Experienced divers rave about the diving, ranging from vertical walls to coral canyons, tunnels, and caves, and even the remains of Spanish galleons.

María la Gorda, with its fantastic scenery and the seabed, rich assorted of marine species, impressively beautiful coral reefs is an ideal and as yet relatively undiscovered place for scuba-diving, snorkeling, bird watching and other types of ecotourism.

Itinerary Sunday, May 1 12:45 pm Depart Miami on AA9478, arriving in Havana at 1:45 pm

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12 pm Enjoy lunch on the Finca Paraiso Agroecologica (the agro-ecological Paradise Farm), where we will learn about Cuban agriculture and tobacco production, while indulging in an organic meal.

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Photo Courtesy of Juliet Barclay Thursday, May 5 9 am Check out and depart for Havana, stopping at Las Terrazas en route.

12 pm Spend the afternoon at Las Terrazas national forest on the way for an overview of conservation programs and a discussion with local residents in the area. We will enjoy a nice lunch in the beautiful nature reserve.

4 pm Arrive in Havana. Check in at hotel.

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3 pm Visit the Taller de Grafica Experimental. The Taller is Havana’s printmaking and lithographic workshop. It is a studio, a school, and most of all, an art institution that preserves and develops the sophisticated art of print making with relative freedom of spirit and form.

3:30 pm Visit to the studio of Wilay, an upcoming artist that specializes in


sculptures and paintings.

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11:30 am Visit to Christopher Colon Cemetery, one of the oldest and most prestigious cemeteries in Latin America, where we will receive a guided tour.

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2:45 pm Depart Havana on AA9479, arriving in Miami at 3:45 pm.

COST Double Occupancy: $3,625 per person Single Occupancy: $3,925 per person

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Airline baggage fees • Airfare to/from Miami • Individual house/hotel expenses (mini bar, room service • Tips to Local Guides • Meals other than listed on itinerary • Modest fees for those who do snorkeling and scuba diving • Cuban Airport Departure tax (25 CUC) • Due to regulations, current high demand for travel to Cuba, and limited hotel capacity, and space is strictly limited for this trip. For inquiries and reservations, please contact CREST program associate, Samantha Hogenson, at shogenson@responsibletravel.org.

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